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Joint Radio Network Manager Supports Next Generation Military Satellite Comms

Enlarge image - Joint Radio Network Manager Supports Next Generation Military Satellite Comms

Joint forces are using Joint Enterprise Network Manager, or JENM, a software application that manages lower tactical radio networks, to support the operational test of the Mobile User Objective System, or MUOS, the next generation of military satellite communication.

The Navy’s MUOS provides smartphone-like services to joint forces, with a beyond-line-of-sight data link that enables them to talk, text and share critical mission data seamlessly over MUOS-capable software defined radios, from almost anywhere in the world.

“This is an exceptional team effort between the Navy and the Army that will keep geographically dispersed troops connected and extend the operational reach of our entire joint force,” said Col. Greg Coile, project manager for the Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, which manages JENM across the joint services.

MUOS utilizes strategically-positioned satellites to transmit data via a software waveform. The system is replacing the current ultra high frequency, or UHF, satellite constellation, which is reaching its end-of-life cycle. In addition to providing 10 times more capacity, the MUOS system can deliver messages in less than a second – after traveling nearly 100,000 miles.

In the near term, the first dismounted radio to be used with the MUOS waveform – the Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit, or HMS, Manpack Radio – will be the primary MUOS terminal for ground users. While MUOS provides the satellite capability, JENM handles the planning, configuration, and monitoring functions for all MUOS compatible, Soldier Radio Waveform, or SRW, and Wideband Networking Waveform, or WNW, software-defined radios in the joint tactical environment.

“JENM is the connective tissue of the mid and lower tier tactical network; it ties the radio capability and waveforms together,” said Maj. Nathan Rozea, PM WIN-T’s assistant product manager, current operations for JENM. “Today’s joint military has thousands of software defined radios that enable advanced communications, voice and data sharing, so the managing software behind those radios is critical; it’s the real muscle that binds the network together.”

The Army is using the upgraded JENM v3 to support the MUOS Multi-Service Operational Test and Evaluation, or MOT&E, being conducted from mid-October to mid-November. Pending a successful test, fielding of the JENM v3 capability for MUOS is expected to occur in the next fiscal year.

“Without JENM, it would be very difficult to manage software defined radios,” said Spc. Samantha Myers, Combat Network Radio, or CNR, signal support systems specialist for the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, or 2/1 AD, the operational unit for the Army’s Network Integration Evaluations, or NIEs. “Think of JENM like the keys to your car, you can’t operate without it.”

JENM v3.2 was successfully utilized during NIE 16.1 in October to reduce risk for the JENM v3.3 SRW, Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, or SINCGARS, and legacy Satellite Communications Operational Test scheduled for NIE 16.2 in the spring. During NIE 16.1, JENM v3.2 supported a lower tier SRW network that consisted of more than 650 nodes for 2/1 AD alone. This and other validations will support the Army’s effort to make JENM v3.3 the new baseline for the NIEs starting at Army Warfighting Assessment 17.1 next fall.

The newly upgraded JENM v3 has many improvements over the legacy version, including the ability to manage and make configuration changes with an Over The Air Management, or OTAM, tool. Compared to the previous version, the new JENM v3 is more user friendly and provides advanced troubleshooting capabilities so Soldiers can be more self-sufficient and less reliant on field service representatives and the communications specialists, or S6s. It also can now provide S6 personnel the ability to streamline the planning for SRW, WNW and MOUS waveforms.

“One of the biggest benefits of JENM is that it reduces user error since Soldiers and S6s don’t have to load mission plans into every individual radio by hand,” said Spc. Lewis Solomon, CNR signal support systems specialist for 2/1 AD. Like Myers, Solomon took part in a JENM user jury last summer to provide input into on-going JENM improvements.

“It is getting real simple to upload the radios and plans,” Solomon said. “All you have to do is plug, load and use the radio. It saves a lot of time.”

Looking forward, the Army is working to increase integration efforts with other program offices to reduce hardware and increase simplicity and unit agility. JENM currently is a software application that resides on a laptop in command post environment, but the Army is working on a JENM Tactical Network Operations, or NetOps, application, referred to as JTNA, which would be loaded onto the hardware of other communications systems.

This application could be loaded into the Joint Battle Command – Platform system mounted inside a vehicle, or onto the dismounted end user devices such as the smart phone – like NettWarrior. JTNA will provide monitoring, loading and reconfiguration capabilities on the move, eliminating the need for Soldiers to return to a command post for these actions. On the current timeline, JTNA is projected to be fielded in 2019.

“By leveraging Soldier feedback from user juries, NIEs and theater, we will continue to improve JENM to further simplify the operation of the lower tactical internet and provide enhanced capabilities to ensure Soldiers and commanders in the thick of operations can reliably relay critical information across the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Jury, product manager for JENM.

(Source: ASD Network)

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